Brenda

Meet Brenda

Thanks to a newly opened fistula hospital close to her home in Kisii, Kenya, 17-year-old Brenda was able to get treatment after six months. Now that she is healed, she has dreams of returning to school to become a nurse.

Brenda's Story

Like many 17-year-olds, Brenda has dreams for her future.

But last year, she had to drop out of school. Not because she had gotten pregnant at 16, but because of an injury she sustained during childbirth. She labored at home for two days before going to the hospital. When she was discharged, she found she was leaking urine uncontrollably. She had developed an obstetric fistula, an injury caused by prolonged obstructed labor. Unable to find treatment, she felt hopeless.

Her mother stayed by her side, her heart aching for her daughter, her sixth and last child. Grieved to see Brenda suffering, she wondered what would happen to her daughter if she were unable to get help. Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait more than six months to find out. Brenda heard about a newly opened fistula hospital on the local radio station and immediately called the hotline. In March 2016, she received free fistula repair surgery at Kisii Gynocare Fistula Center in Kenya.

The hospital is the seventh and most recent addition to the Fistula Treatment Network in Kenya. The surgeon, Dr. John Omboga, was trained through the Action on Fistula initiative and is committed to providing fistula repair surgery in Kisii, his home county. In just six weeks after the facility opened its doors in mid-March, Dr. Omboga had already performed an impressive 54 surgeries, giving women like Brenda the chance to resume their lives.

Two days after her surgery, while recovering on the ward, Brenda is once again envisioning her future. Her dream is to become a nurse. Encouraging her, Dr. Omboga says that if she works hard, she could come back and work here at the fistula center when she graduates, helping other women who have gone through what she has. Brenda just smiles, and her mother gently puts her arm around her daughter’s shoulder.

Brenda and her mother

About Kenya

  • Population: 45,010,056
  • Average Births per Woman: 3.54
  • Female Literacy: 84.2%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 43.4% (less than $1.25/day)
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We’re Making a Difference in Kenya

News
Daily Nation: An estimated 3,000 obstetric fistula cases are reported annually, but only a third receive treatment due to lack of specialists

Fistula Foundation Senior Program Director Lindsey Pollaczek and Outreach Manager Habiba Corodhia Mohamed are interviewed for a story about the success of our Action on Fistula program in Kenya, which combines extensive community outreach with surgeon training to find and treat more women suffering from fistula. Lack of specialists hinders treatment of fistula cases An estimated…

News
Reuters: As surgeries triple, Kenya aims to end shame of fistula

Reuters reports on Kenya’s aim to end the shame of obstetric fistula nationwide, tripling treatment surgeries and increasing capacity through opening treatment centers and training surgeons. Read the full article at the link below: As surgeries triple, Kenya aims to end shame of fistula NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Kenya’s hopes of ending incontinence caused…

Read Another Woman’s Story

  • Bernard

    Kenya

    Bernard Owino is one of six county mobilizers with Disciples of Mercy (DOM), an organization that runs a fistula outreach program in Kisumu. Before joining DOM, he worked with orphans and other vulnerable populations in the region for four years as a social worker.

  • Domitila

    Domitila

    Angola

    In 2012 Domitila became pregnant with her 9th baby. During her final trimester, she had a severe episode of bleeding. Her family realized this indicated the baby had died, but hoped she would still be able to push it out on her own at home. When nothing happened, they finally took her to the hospital where a hysterectomy was done. After this, she no longer was able to control her urine - she had developed a fistula.

  • Ana-Angola

    Ana

    Angola

    Today, Ana is 18 years old, with an enthusiastic outlook and bubbly smile. That wasn’t always the case. Ana was just shy of 16 years old when she became pregnant. Everything went well, until it was time to deliver. Her labor was excruciating, and lasted for days.

  • Alradya-Sudan

    Alradya

    Sudan

    Alradya is 17 years old and lives in northern Sudan. When she was 15, she was married to her cousin, a farmer. She became pregnant and when she went into labor, had only her mother at her side. She endured excruciating labor for two days, but there was still no sign of the baby, which she could no longer feel moving. A traditional birth attendant was summoned to examine Alradya, who ordered that she be sent to the nearest hospital.

  • Salome

    Kenya

    Salome's labor began at night. She sought help from her mother-in-law, who immediately called Salome's husband - by cultural norms, the only one who could give permission for Salome to seek help at a hospital. But he had turned his phone off for the night and was unreachable. Her mother-in-law tried all she could throughout the night to help Salome deliver her child. By the time Salome's husband returned the call the next morning to advise that she be taken immediately to the hospital, it was too late. The baby did not survive, and Salome had developed an obstetric fistula.

  • Rasoanirina

    Madagascar

    Rasoanirina was 18 when she went into labor with her first child. But her labor did not go as planned: it lasted for three excruciating days before the baby was delivered stillborn, via C-section on July 2, 2015. Her complicated labor left her with more than the pain of losing a child; it also left her with obstetric fistula.

  • Siana

    Siana

    Burundi

    Siana is 17 years old and from Katanga Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She developed an obstetric fistula after going through a difficult pregnancy at just 14.

  • Seline

    Kenya

    Seline lives in a small village in the remote region of West Pokot, Kenya. She did not go to school and married young, as is tradition in this pastoralist community. She went into labor with her fourth child about three years ago, preferring to give birth at home with a traditional birth attendant from her village. Only 18% of women give birth in a health center in this region of Kenya, far below the national average of 44%

  • Hauwa

    Nigeria

    Hauwa was 60 years old when she became aware that the fistula she had suffered with for over 40 years could be repaired for free at our partner hospital, Evangel Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center (EVFC).

  • Lucie

    Madagascar

    With a tube down her nose to her stomach, Lucie was unable to talk. Her sister, Elysa, relayed this story on her behalf.

  • Helen

    Kenya

    Helen went into labor with her second child about four years ago. She gave birth in her home, where she labored for many hours, completely alone without anyone present to assist her. Her baby was stillborn and she began leaking urine immediately.

  • Hadija

    Guinea

    By age 27, Hadija had already given birth to four children. Sadly, only two of her children survived. Making things worse, her last pregnancy left Hadija with an obstetric fistula.

  • Fatma

    Tanzania

    When 18 year-old Fatma became pregnant, she did not have early and quality access to the healthcare she wanted when she gave birth. Fatma developed a fistula as a result of prolonged labor.

  • Felana

    Madagascar

    At the tender age of 15, Felana became pregnant. She suffered a prolonged obstructed labor, and by the time her stillborn baby was delivered, she had developed obstetric fistula.

  • Serafina

    Angola

    Serafina is 18 years old and from the Mukubal tribe in southwestern Angola. Married off at a young age and one of several wives, Serafina became pregnant when she was 14. She is very small-boned and was suffering from malnutrition when she came to the hospital, as food is often scarce in that part of the country. As a result of that and other factors, her delivery did not go well.

  • Alphonsia

    Tanzania

    Alphonsia’s heart-wrenching story began 27 years ago after her labor failed to progress properly.

  • Towanda

    Zimbabwe

    Towanda is 20 years old and from a rural area just outside of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city. Four years ago at the age of 16, she became pregnant. When the time came to deliver, there were a lot of complications.

  • Margaret and Rose

    Kenya

    At the age of 14, Margaret was raped while fetching water at the local stream. She became pregnant as a result, and endured a difficult labor, which resulted in a stillborn baby and an obstetric fistula. An orphan, Margaret had nowhere to go, and nobody to help her through this terrible tragedy – except her sister, Rose.